Miss. Appeals Court sets cases for new term

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The state Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for June 4 in a Cory Maye’s appeal of his conviction for killing a police officer in 2001.

The case is among dozens the Appeals Court will consider during the May-June term.

In 2004, a Marion County jury convicted Maye of capital murder and sentenced him to death.

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In 2006, a judge threw out Maye’s death sentence on grounds Maye’s attorney should have done a better job during the penalty phase of his trial. Maye was re-sentenced to life without parole.

Prentiss police officer Ron Jones was killed during a drug raid at the duplex where Maye lived.

Maye claimed he had fallen asleep in the chair when officers raided his duplex the day after Christmas 2001 in search of drugs, according to court documents.

Law enforcement officers first raided the apartment of Jamie Smith, 21, who lived on the other side of the duplex. They found drugs and arrested him.

Officers testified at Maye’s trial that they saw a light turned on inside Maye’s duplex, knocked on his door and announced themselves but got no answer. They said Maye was standing when he fired on Jones.

Maye testified that he didn’t hear police announce themselves, he grabbed his pistol and was on the floor when he fired upward in self-defense. He said he had been watching his 18-month-old daughter while his wife worked a late shift.

The Appeals Court will decide a number of case based on briefs filed by attorneys rather than hearing oral arguments.

Among them are:

— Wanda Blakeney’s appeal of her 2007 conviction Jones County for killing her grandparents. Blakeney is serving two life terms for the 2006 slayings of Willie and Anita Kitchens.

Prosecutors said Blakeney withdrew $23,000 from her grandparents’ bank account. They said Blakeney was the only heir to their estate.

Wanda Blakeney claimed she went along with the murder plot because she was afraid of her husband, John Christopher Blakeney, who had abused her and her children. The husband was convicted and sentenced to life.

— Miguel Bartolo’s appeal of his 2007 conviction in Harrison County for killing a 24-year-old woman.

Bartolo was sentenced to life in prison for the 2006 death of Christy Ayala. Ayala drowned in Biloxi’s Back Bay outside the IP Casino Resort.

Prosecutors said the two argued over sex and Bartolo strangled her until she fainted, then dragged her body into the water.

Ayala was a Navy police officer with the Seabees in Gulfport.

— Michael Williams’ appeal of his 2007 conviction in Hinds County for the killing of two people.

Williams was given two concurrent life sentences without parole for shooting deaths of LaTonya Thompson of Jackson and Calvin Jennings of Pelahatchie. The pair was found shot to death at Thompson’s Jackson home in 2005.

— Joe Lee Brunner’s appeal of his 2007 conviction in Hinds County for the beating an elderly woman during a robbery.

Brunner was sentenced to 180 years on four counts related to the 2006 attack on 82-year-old Lorea May.

Authorities said Brunner beat May with a pipe after breaking into her home.

Brunner was sentenced to 50 years for house burglary, 40 years for aggravated assault, 80 years for armed robbery and 10 years for auto theft. The prison terms were to be served consecutively.

On the Net:

State Court of Appeals, http://www.mssc.state.ms.us